Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum Initiative
COMMUNIQUÉ Volume 2, Number 1, May 2010
The Ontario Adult Literacy Curriculum (OALC) is a Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities (MTCU)
led initiative operating under the umbrella of the three learning ministries1. The eight organizations2
representing Ontario’s literacy sectors and streams3 guide the OALC’s development. This communiqué
marks the start of the next phase of OALC development. Further communiqués will be distributed
regularly between now and the scheduled implementation of the OALC in January 2011. You will find
previous communiqués posted at http://forums.alphaplus.ca/forum-22.html.
The OALC Initiative so far…
Last fiscal year (2009-2010), the OALC Initiative developed a draft curriculum framework and
guidelines. Six core competencies were defined and supporting tasks for three of these
competencies were developed. Furthermore, key cultural considerations were identified. The
OALC has three levels that align with the Essential Skills levels and are related to the International
Adult Literacy Survey (IALS). Practitioners from across the province representing all the sectors and
streams piloted portions of the draft curriculum framework and guidelines. A select group of
Employers, labour representatives, and trainers reviewed the approach and one competency.
The OALC Initiative going forward…
This fiscal year each of the partner organizations has taken the lead on a sub-project in the
initiative. We will be using these Communiqués to keep you up-to-date on each project’s activities
as well as other developments. The projects and their lead organizations are:
Curriculum and Framework College Sector Committee for Adult Upgrading (CSC)
Assessment La Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes & CESBA
Materials Framework Ontario Native Literacy Coalition (ONLC)
Information Management AlphaPlus
Training Development Community Literacy Ontario (CLO)
LBS Agency Support Ontario Literacy Coalition (OLC)
Allied Project Deaf Literacy Initiative (DLI)
The Learning Ministries are composed of Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; Ministry of Education; as well as Ministry of
Citizenship and Immigration.
Ontario Literacy Coalition (OLC), La Coalition ontarienne de formation des adultes, Ontario Native Literacy Coalition (ONLC), Deaf
Literacy Initiative (DLI) College Sector Committee for Adult Upgrading (CSC}, Community Literacy Ontario (CLO), CESBA, and AlphaPlus
“Sectors” – community-based, college, and school board literacy service providers. “Streams” – Anglophone, Francophone, Native, and
Deaf literacy organizations.
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The CSC is responsible for the curriculum and framework aspects of this initiative. The CSC has
assembled a team of 13 highly qualified teachers representing programs from all sectors of LBS
delivery. The work of this team is foundational for all the other OALC projects. This team is
responsible for producing the first draft of the curriculum for use by LBS practitioners. The team is also
responsible for developing resources including background/overview documentation, the framework,
and the guidelines for all task groups within all competencies. Representatives of the Francophone,
Native, and Deaf streams will also review the curriculum and framework materials before the
documents are finalized.
The curriculum team completed a large selection of background reading and then met for a day and a
half of training and orientation in North Bay on May 5 and 6. At this session, the team reviewed the
processes and products that resulted from the Framework Development and Guidelines Development
teams that met and worked during fall 2008 through spring 2010. The curriculum team is also
responsible for reviewing the feedback from the OALC pilot project (winter 2010) and incorporating
that feedback into the curriculum documents being produced.
The CSC is pleased with the response received to its cross-sector call for project workers in April. The
CSC is confident that this team of teachers with more than 220 combined years of experience will
produce resources that will enable teachers across the LBS system to move forward quickly to achieve
the objectives of the OALC project.
2. Assessment Framework
The assessment framework portion of the OALC will be two-fold, divided between learner gains and
learner goal completion aspects of the assessment. Each tier of this two-fold approach will directly
inform its counterpart and the two teams involved in the OALC assessment framework piece will work
closely together to ensure of its seamless, yet comprehensive progress.
The learner gain aspect of the assessment framework will contribute a series of research reports
addressing literacy assessment theory and practice intended to inform the OALC assessment
Framework at large. These reports will help Ontario’s literacy field as it looks toward province-wide
implementation of a standardized assessment tool in 2012. These discrete research documents will
present an objective perspective on the key concepts and issues of assessment for learner gains. In
turn, this will ensure the OALC Assessment Framework can respond to the needs of learners and other
stakeholders today and in the years to come.
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There will be a series of four reports. The first report in the series builds upon the research conducted
by La Coalition that outlines the considerations of implementing a task-based assessment approach in
a competency-based framework. It will address learner gains assessment, fair assessment, and literacy
levels. The second report will focus on what learner gains means and considerations for the use of this
type of assessment. The third report will review the assessment tool that has been identified for the
OALC learner gains function. The last report will offer guidelines for the field in the use of a learner
gains reading assessment using the IALS scale. Intended for a readership including literacy field
practitioners and employers, the reports will follow the principles of clear language as they address key
concepts and issues related to learner gains assessment.
Simultaneously, the goal completion aspect of the assessment framework will guide the development
of the assessment framework approach in the OALC. Although the LBS program currently uses goal
completion as one of its assessment-related indicators (along with LBS levels and outcomes), it has not
been consistently described until now. The intent of the goal completion work is to provide
practitioners with an assessment approach and related tools to support the development of the
literacy tasks and practices that learners will need to achieve their goals. The OALC assessment
approach will be organized around the following elements:
Five goal pathways
Transition tasks (actual and representative) for each pathway that indicate exit from LBS
and participation in other learning, work and community endeavours
Developmental milestone tasks to indicate progress
Bridging points between pathways for goal changes
Related training plan supports
Complementary assessment tools (formal and informal) for intake for the time a learner is
active in the program and at the point of transition.
The next communiqué be especially focused on the Assessment element of the OALC.
3. Materials Framework
The Learning Materials and Resources team will be developing a tool to assist practitioners in linking
resources, including those currently used and new resources, to the OALC. The project will help
provide guidance for the use, adaptation, translation, and creation of existing and new resources. The
goal of the project team is to make the practitioners jobs easier during the implementation and the
delivery of the new curriculum framework.
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The Materials and Resources project team is currently working on its strategic plan. This plan will
outline how the team will develop a materials framework from which a tool will be developed. The
team is collecting information from the streams and sectors through allied projects. The team will be
tracking frequently used materials to include examples of how the tool works using familiar materials.
The current project team consists of community-based Anglophone, Francophone, and Native
organizations’ representatives. The team will begin consultations with Deaf stream in June.
4. Information Management
The OALC Information Management Project involves three primary activities to support the
development and delivery of the OALC once the initial version of the framework and guidelines are
First, an Information Management Strategy will gather requirements for and document the future
processes by which OALC content will be created, updated, and managed. In this process, the IM
Strategy will identify the “types” of content to be published on the web along with requirements for
the tools necessary to manage distributed collaboration on OALC content in the next phase of the
project. Documented processes and requirements will be used to make technical recommendations,
and to develop a phased implementation plan for this system.
Secondly, a Web Strategy will develop a vision and gather requirements for delivery of the OALC core
curriculum and related content via the web, along with the associated content management
processes. As with the IM Strategy, documented processes and requirements will be used to make
technical recommendations and to develop a phased implementation for this system.
The third activity is the design and implementation of a Phase 1 Web Site that will provide access to
the initial version of the OALC core content and related material as well as contextual information on
the history of the project, project stakeholders, and funders. The site will also orient target audiences
to the curriculum in the context of literacy and other related services.
The development of the initial project strategy will involve consultations with the other OALC projects
and key stakeholders to fine tune and validate the scope and approach for engaging stakeholders in
questions around the “care and feeding” of the OALC content, along with the delivery of the OALC and
related content via the web.
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5. Training and Implementation
CLO is delighted to have been funded by the MTCU to develop OALC practitioner training that will be
used for delivery to all sectors and streams. During the course of this project, CLO will:
Develop a practitioner training strategy based on consultation with sectors and streams
Plan for training delivery based on consultation with the sectors and streams
Develop a training package to support trainers and practitioners in understanding a
competency-based program approach, using the curriculum framework (including
guidelines, assessment, and materials frameworks), and understanding the role and use of a
Train the trainers in all sectors and streams so that these trainers will be prepared to deliver
training at the various fall and winter training initiatives of the individual sector and stream
Provide ongoing mentoring and coaching supports to the trainers in the various sectors and
CLO will develop a training package that will be conducive to face-to-face training and online training,
in addition to developing training materials in a format that can be housed along with the OALC on its
future website. The initial training package will be completed by late fall 2010. The follow-up training
package will be completed by January 2011.
Each sector and stream organization will deliver the actual training to their respective sectors and
streams agencies (including CLO delivering this training to the community-based sector).
6. LBS Agency Support
The LBS Agency Support project will examine current and emerging literacy service planning and the
intersections with service planning and coordination among other elements of Employment Ontario
(EO) and the Learning Ministries. This will support greater integration of the range of learner supports
and increased service coordination to enhance learner transitions.
Over the course of the next year, the LBS Agency Support team will place the OALC into the framework
of the evolving integration of LBS into EO including the key intersections between OALC/LBS activities
and related EO service providers. As part of that process, the team will provide informed advice on
OALC data management with a focus on the ways in which different stakeholders’ needs are
accommodated through developing types of indicators and data management that reflect both
accountability and program improvement needs of LBS agencies.
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As part of this work, the OLC will be managing external communications about the OALC initiative
including communiqués and presentations.
Through the Sustainability Project, CESBA will develop a strategy for managing and maintaining an
ongoing “ever-greening” of the OALC. The project will develop a thorough understanding of what is
needed in the way of content management and processes in the future to ensure the integrity of the
curriculum and OALC assessment. To this end, CESBA will do the following:
Conduct an evaluation of the OALC framework and initial field training
Define the deliverables/information that MTCU needs to own to ensure the integrity of the
processes, including assessment
Research models that maintain curriculum both in Ontario and outside the province
Develop and propose a policy to MTCU for sustaining the Literacy Curriculum
Develop protocols, processes, and criteria for field engagement in the use and revision of
framework content on the OALC website
Develop a decision process for sustaining and maintaining the interactive nature of the
Identify future opportunities both internally and externally for Sustainability
In order to be successful in these tasks, CESBA will work very closely with each of the other projects to
stay abreast of developments and decisions. The goal is to become knowledgeable and stay well-
informed regarding all aspects of the OALC that require supports for ongoing viability.
8. Allied Project
The Allied Project focuses on ensuring that the Deaf stream has enough resources to support the use of
the new OALC at its implementation. To date, there are not enough resources for any of the pathways.
This has been identified as a significant issue for the Deaf stream when introduced to new changes
within the Literacy system such as the OALC. Pending funding approval from Research and
Development proposals, DLI will be doing several projects to ensure that the Deaf stream will be well
equipped to use the new OALC in the next year.
The Allied Project will be developing curriculum guidelines for the Employment pathway that have
been re-conceptualized from Signposts developed by PTP and curriculum guidelines for the
Independence pathway borrowing key concepts from the Foundations for Independence developed by
CLO. Along with those curriculum guidelines, the Allied Project is in the process of adapting the
CAMERA assessment tool for the Employment pathway to ensure that it is culturally and linguistically
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appropriate for the Deaf stream. In addition, the team will create resources in American Sign Language
that will include activities and examples of soft skills under competencies # 5 and # 6. Lastly, the team
will develop an assessment tool that identifies level of proficiency in American Sign Language to
recognize linguistic abilities of learners in their first language and how it compares to their level of
proficiency in their second language, English.
If you have any questions or concerns or wish to provide feedback, we welcome your comments.
Project contacts are as follows:
Lead Organization Project Title Contact Person Email Address
ONLC Materials and Resources Ellen Paterson firstname.lastname@example.org
La Coalition Learner Gain Suzanne Benoit email@example.com
CSC Curriculum and Framework Lynne Wallace firstname.lastname@example.org
CLO Training Development Jette Cosburn email@example.com
CESBA Goal Completion Brenda King firstname.lastname@example.org
DLI Allied Project Peggy Anne Gordon email@example.com
AlphaPlus Information Management Darcelle Hall firstname.lastname@example.org
OLC LBS Agency Support John MacLaughlin email@example.com
CESBA Sustainability Brenda King firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have comments about the Communiqué itself, please contact the OLC – John MacLaughlin, at
email@example.com, or at 416.963.5787, ext. 24.
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